“Pervez Musharraf was right” says Congress leader Saifuddin Soz

India or Pakistan? Will Kashmir choose either one of the nations or will they want their own independence?

Former Union minister and veteran Congress leader in Jammu and Kashmir, Saifuddin Soz, has made a shocking statement. Soz has suggested that Kashmiris would prefer to be “independent” if allowed to exercise “free will”. He has claimed in his upcoming book that former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf’s assessment about 10 years ago that the people of Kashmir would “prefer to be independent” if allowed to “exercise free will” appears to be “correct even today”.

Soz also goes on to say that the Union government should first talk to the separatist Hurriyat Conference before having a dialogue with mainstream parties to resolve the Kashmir issue.

“And, if the Union of India has to talk to the people of Kashmir, it will have to decide the grouping with which it will initiate the dialogue. In my opinion, it is the political conglomerate called the Hurriyat. Then, the ball will certainly move to what is broadly known as the ‘mainstream’,” Soz writes in his book ‘Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle’, due to be released next week by ‘Rupa Publications’.

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The Congress leader said various governments in New Delhi since 1953 have committed “blunders” that has led to the alienation of Kashmiris from the rest of India. According to Soz, the Centre is primarily responsible for resolving the Kashmir issue.

The Union government must show “a gesture of compassion for creating a situation of relief in the minds of Kashmiris”, he says, adding it must start a dialogue with the people.

In his book, Soz writes about the “so-called Musharraf-Vajpayee-Manmohan formula” under which the two sides of Kashmir will have same borders but allow free movement across the region. Further, the formula envisages autonomy across the region and demilitarisation.

According to Soz, Musharraf had made it clear to the Pakistan Army as well as those in power outside, that this was the only possible solution.

“He (Musharraf) had also convinced his colleagues that the resolutions of the UN on Kashmir had constituted a redundant situation as these meant a tight-jacket for Kashmiris whether they wanted to go with India or to Pakistan. Musharraf had explained that if Kashmiris were given a chance to exercise their free will, they would prefer to be independent. In fact, this assessment of Musharraf seems to be correct even today!” he writes in the book, as per the newspaper.

“It is the Union of India that caused unrest in the minds of the people of Kashmir and deepened it over a period of time by committing mistakes one after the other. The Union of India has to adopt a mechanism to assess properly as to what has gone wrong and how it can be corrected,” he goes on to add.

While calling to reducing troop numbers in J&K and revoking AFSPA, Soz says bullets or pellets won’t help solve the Kashmir problem.


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